Ebola is severely affecting the West African economy. Cheick Fanta Mady Camara, Secretary General for the Guinea Chamber of Commerce said, “Ebola is very bad for business. Trade is based on the exchange of goods and ideas, but people are too scared to shake hands, or leave their homes.”
Officials at the Gbessia airport say that almost every seat on airplanes out of the area is full, but very few people are coming into the area. Flights to and from the area have been stopped by many airlines including British Airways. This has also left many hotels and resorts without a booking for many weeks to come, and the only ones that are currently staying are aid workers who organizations may soon pull out of the area.
In Liberia, the Liberia Health Minister Dr. Walter Gwenigale has told people not eat bush meat including monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees and other animals because they may be a carrier for the disease. The sale of bush meat is a major part of the economy in Liberia and throughout much of West Africa. Meat marketers say that the meat may actually help people to become stronger. The United States Center for Disease Control says that the disease is transmitted only through contact with bodily fluids. The price of monkeys used in research has risen drastically since the outbreak began.
Political unrest in the area as demonstrated by the demonstration in front of the Sierra Leonean Ebola treatment facility on July 25 could also affect businesses. The people were protesting the government’s ineffective treatment in stopping the disease, so police used tear gas to break up the demonstration. While this is currently having a limited effect on business, if the problem worsens, it could have a larger impact. The World Health Organization says that companies should take this opportunity to review travel security protocols, redundancy in supply chains, and knowledge transfer systems.
Currently the stock market is showing little impact from Ebola, but that could change if quickly if Ebola heads to other countries. Analysts like to look at historic trends when predicting what the market will do in the future. The stock market rose during the period of the great flu pandemic in 1918-1919 the stock market finished 24 percent higher. Some companies, like Adidas, who was counting on expansion into the African market are already announcing that their stocks will finish the year lower than they predicted.